Does “February 12” ring a bell?
It should, as it was 50 years ago this day when HDB introduced the “Home Ownership for the People Scheme”, which culminated in our high home ownership rate today. Millions of Singaporeans have directly benefitted from this scheme.
We’ve come a long way since 12 February 1964.
Early estates such as Toa Payoh and Queenstown, with their distinctive long common corridors and flush toilets, may seem rather basic today, but they were considered very progressive in their time!
We have continued to be forward-looking in our HDB designs. As an example, all our new BTO projects will now include eco-features such as energy-saving lighting in common areas, and eco-pedestals in bathrooms which recycle water for flushing.
More important than just the hardware is the heartware – HDB estates are where Singaporeans build homes, start families and form strong bonds with their neighbours and communities. These are the lasting intangibles.
Today, home ownership remains our key social pillar. It gives Singaporeans a tangible stake in our country, financial security, and a critical sense of belonging.
Former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew envisioned making Singapore a nation of home owners. Many pioneers such as then National Development Minister, Mr Lim Kim San helped turn his vision into reality.
At the handover ceremony for the Pinnacle@Duxton in December 2009, Mr Lee recalled:
50 years later, a third generation of Singaporeans is now embarking on their own homeownership journey. During Our Singapore Conversation last year, an overwhelming 97% of Singaporeans said “yes” when asked if home ownership was still important to them.
So the core purpose of housing the nation remains the same. HDB’s mission remains critical and relevant. We will continue to help Singaporeans realise their dreams of owning a home.
As we mark 50 years of home ownership, let us remember our pioneers who made it possible. I hope this old documentary “Homes for Our People” will re-ignite some nostalgia and remind us how far we have come.
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